This traditional dish, historically known as “Welsh Rabbit,” features a salty, spicy cheese sauce served over toast, and eaten hot with a knife and fork.
Rabbits were never an ingredient, but the savory spices and luscious taste of creamy cheese may just be the ultimate comfort food in this easy-to-prepare Welsh recipe.
Throughout history, the Welsh were often, for the most part, extremely poor. Meat was an unaffordable luxury, and peasants weren’t allowed to hunt on the landlord’s property. Yet the Welsh were known to be particularly fond of cheese, and they may have borrowed this dish from the British and adapted it as “toasted cheese” or “caws pobi” in the 1500s. It became more formally known as “Welsh Rabbit” in the 18th century when it appeared in a popular cookbook of the day titled The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, by Hannah Glasse.
Today, you’ll find many variations of Welsh rarebit and many added complements, such as a fried egg on top, tomato slices, cooked bacon, or fresh herbs. But the secret that makes Welsh rarebit special is in the spices added to the sauce.
Food has a way of bringing families together across generations. If you have a family recipe that has stood the test of time, preserve it as an important part of your legacy and heritage. Add a photo, and tell the story of how it became part of your family food traditions in the FamilySearch Memories app or in Memories in the Family Tree online. Learn more about family food traditions, and get to know your Welsh ancestors in FamilySearch record collections.
Welsh Rarebit Recipe
This recipe is an adaptation from the Culinary Ginger recipe, using calorie-trimmed ingredients and no alcohol. It tastes delicious and maintains the creamy, luscious texture of the original.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- Pinch of ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of “all-around” dry rub meat seasoning or substitution
- 3 tablespoons apple juice and 3 tablespoons unflavored seltzer water mixed
- 1 cup shredded reduced fat white cheddar cheese
- 2 slices crusty bread pre-toasted on both sides
- Toast bread in a toaster or under the broiler, turning over to toast both sides. Set aside.
- Using a heavy, nonstick saucepot, melt the butter, add the flour, and mix until you have a smooth roux with no lumps.
- Reduce heat to simmer, and add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, and dry rub (or substitute paprika, cayenne pepper, a pinch of brown sugar, salt, and a dash of Tabasco or hot sauce in place of the dry rub.)
- Gradually add the apple juice and seltzer mixture, and whisk until it starts to bubble and thicken. Cook for about 1–2 minutes, stirring out any lumps.
- Add grated, reduced-fat cheese, and cook just until the cheese is melted. The sauce will be thick.
- Pour cheese sauce on toasted crusty bread, and place under a broiler for 2–3 minutes until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown. Remove and serve immediately.